When running a company, you have a bird’s eye view of all of its moving parts. You probably have a pretty good sense of each department, product and service. But your customers only see the external-facing part of your company. And their entire view of your company rests on their impression of that experience.
You could have an industry-leading product and the smartest-working employees who are the envy of all, but if your customer experience is not consistently on point it may not matter. They have to trust you. They have to trust that not only are they getting the highest-quality product, they are getting the highest-quality service. When you offer something to be delivered by a certain time for a certain price, they must trust that you will make that happen. And if there’s ever an issue, they have to trust that you will immediately remedy the problem.
Take Amazon, for example. Once known as an online bookseller, it’s now considered one of the fastest-growing, most-innovative and dominant companies in the world. It’s also one of the most trusted. Customers know they can go online to find exactly what they need, place their order, and most likely get free two-day shipping. If there’s a snag in the process, Amazon is well-known for its responsiveness and problem-solving. Customers typically come away from the experience feeling even better about Amazon after they’ve encountered a problem. Here's a short video clip from Denise Keating, President of DATAgility Inc., talking about the Amazon effect.
Amazon makes it easy to be a customer. Customers do not have to jump through hoops to shop at Amazon. It has made every effort to provide a seamless purchasing process. In addition to everything from A to Z, there’s one-click ordering, same-day delivery, and instant tracking. There’s even Sunday delivery.
Business-to-business companies can take a lesson from this retailer. Amazon does not treat customers as an inconvenience. They are not getting in the way of its business of selling products. Amazon knows that its business is serving its customers. That’s what every business is. That’s what your business is. Check out another short video clip from Denise Keating talking about the importance of focusing on the customer.
Take a moment to look at your company through your customers’ eyes. What do they see? It’s more than just your product. It’s your representatives, your website, your social media presence, your location, your leaders. It’s every access point they have to your company. The sum of all of these parts projects an image of your company. That image should project trust, not uncertainty about what they’re going to get. Your customers should know they are getting a quality product with quality service. Every aspect of what your customers see should demonstrate that.
Amazon is setting the standard for what customers expect when dealing with every company, including those that are business-to-business. If you aren’t meeting those standards, they take note. That’s why it’s imperative that you evaluate your customer experience. Research your competitors, survey your customers, listen to your employees. What are they saying about you? Really examine the feedback you get. Do your customers face any obstacles any point of the service process? Be creative with your solutions. Don’t be afraid to try new things. And remember, communication is essential. Let your employees know you want to do better. Tell your customers you’re listening. There might be trials and errors, but that’s what true innovation is all about. Just ask Amazon.